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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

The First Day at Work - for Teens and Parents

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For teens, congratulations - you have done it - you have a job and today is the first day! Take a deep breath, be early and enthusiastic. Remember that every person working where you work now had a first day and will understand when you have questions and worries. Do not be shy - ask away. It is better to ask then do things incorrectly. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Be clear with your manager about how many hours you think you can work each week and still get your homework done;
  • Ask for the combination of after school and weekend hours that you think will work for you;
  • If you work in the food industry, like many teens, ask if you get a free meal each day;
  • Ask for a break after four hours;
  • If there is a tip jar, ask how the tips get divided each day;
  • Know when paydays are, if you have to complete a time sheet, and when the schedule is posted each week; and finally,
  • Do not call to ask when you are working the following week - go by and write your schedule down.
Welcome to the world of us working stiffs - enjoy the first paycheck, sense of accomplishment and the freedom that comes with growing up!

For parents, remember that your teen does not know business etiquette and is trying to make a good first impression. The type of job s/he has may also be very different and she may not know when s/he is working until each week starts. Be tolerant when s/he does not ask for a day off knowing a family event or school performance is coming up, do not be critical when they wash dishes for an entire shift, or volunteer to take an extra shift for someone, or do not know the answers to your questions. We have been working for many years and things that seem logical and easy to us make intimidate your teen.

Try to see the world through their eyes - their peers have been working longer, seem more competent, and seem to know exactly what is going on - and your son or daughter does not want to rock the boat. Encouragement and love will go a lot further than pushy and critical - let them learn slowly and make a few mistakes - it will not be the end of the world. Finally, help them be proactive about finding a balance between school, work, family and social time - we all know how hard it can be, and avoiding teenage meltdowns is always a good thing.

Congratulations to you, the parent, too, this is a milestone for you, as well.

Photo credit: KM Photography
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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